Posted in Recipes, What's for Dinner Mom?

Vegetarian Curry

Vegetarian Curry.
I think I’ve made one of these before, oh yes look : Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Curry, it’s on my blog and also in my cookbook ‘Enjoy!’ over here look, ahem.

Back to the present.
veg curry

What I’m looking for when I cook is simplicity, accessible ingredients and taste. I will do anything to avoid chop, chop, chopping and keep the prep. simple. I love all vegetables but I hate prep. especially awkward peeling and then hard chopping. Case in point turnips. To my shame I probably only cook turnip a couple of times a year. It is delicious when cubed, tenderly cooked and smothered in butter or mashed with white pepper. I am sorry turnip, you’ve been neglected because you are such flipping hard work. But you are delicious and you are worth it. Turnip I shall revisit you anon. But there is no turnip in this recipe.
There are shallots though that are a little fiddly to peel but a cinch to slice, the knife just glides through them. 2 cloves of garlic – sometimes I’m lazy and use garlic granules instead because again fiddly peeling! Ginger – I keep fresh ginger in the freezer, never peel it and grate what I need of it straight from the freezer using a microplane grater – If you don’t have one of these, they are a must. I buy kale ready washed and chopped.
Store-cupboard ingredients such as cannelini, butter beans and chickpeas are a life-saver along with chopped tomatoes. If you just had those, some spicing and stock cubes you will never be too far from a simple tasty meal.
Time is another element of cooking that is on short supply these days so this beauty is for one of those days where dinner simply has to be prepped and cooked in under 30 minutes.
veg curry 2
Vegetarian Curry.
You will need:
1 tbsp cooking oil
5 shallots (or 1 medium onion)
2 cloves garlic
Knob ginger
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
half tsp hot chilli powder
1 tin cannelini beans
1 tin butter beans
1 tin chickpeas
1 tin chopped tomato
1 tin water
bunch kale – 4 large handfuls
1 tin coconut milk
salt and black pepper
Brown rice to serve (cook according to pack)
Heat the oil in a large deep pan and soften sliced shallots for 10 minutes over a medium heat.
Add crushed garlic and grated ginger. Mix well.
Add the spices : 1 tbsp garam masala, 1 tsp turmeric, half tsp hot chilli powder. Mix well.
Turn the heat to high and add drained cannelini, butter beans and chickpeas, mix well, then add the chopped tomatoes and 1 tin of water. Bring to the boil, add the chopped kale and stir through then put a lid on, reduce the heat to a simmer for 5 minutes.
Stir in coconut milk to heat through.
Serve with the cooked rice. Would also love to be accompanied by some naan bread, dollop of natural yoghurt and some chopped cashews.
‘Til next time, Sheila.

Posted in Recipes, What's for Dinner Mom?

No Chop Chicken Dinner

Standing in your kitchen with one eye on the clock as you frantically try to chop, peel and prep. vegetables and meat for dinner, fills no-one with joy.  Fine if you have all the time in the world and are not going to be put under pressure by a towering 6ft teenager who practically has steam coming out his ears because yet again he is STARVING.  Not only are the children all verging on collapse because they’ve had ‘nothing’ to eat all day but you only have 30 minutes before you’ve got to don your ‘taxi’ cap and get on the road again for a sports fixture.
This is my life at the moment and it’s set to continue thus for a few more years until they decide I’m redundant.  Meanwhile I’m continuously trying to come up with quick, easy yet balanced and filling meals and the tribe have declared this one a triumph.
balsamic glazed chicken close up
Zero prep. Really? Yes, nothing! Unless you count cutting a lemon in half before you squeeze it and making up a jug of chicken stock, that’s all there is to it.  No peeling, no chopping just straight-forward no-fuss cooking.  Mini chicken fillets are a key ingredient here as they cook so much more quickly than full chicken breasts.  If your brood are of the particularly ravenous variety be sure to accompany this with some fresh crusty bread to fill any gaps.
bulgur base
no chop chicken dinner platter
I simply don’t have time for weighing of ingredients here and judge most things by eye so you may want to check the pack of bulgur wheat for quantities of wheat vs stock and likewise you decide how much chicken and veg. you need to satisfy your audience.  Err on the side of making too much as leftovers will be perfect eaten either hot or cold.
No Chop Chicken Dinner:
You will need:
Mini chicken fillets
Rapeseed or your preferred cooking oil
Chilli flakes (or chilli paste)
Chicken stock cube
Bulgur wheat
1 lemon
Packet of frozen sweetcorn halves
Fresh sugar snap peas and green beans
Balsamic vinegar
Block of feta cheese
Sunflower seeds
Pre-heat your fan oven to 200C and boil the kettle
Place the mini chicken fillets on a cooking tray and drizzle with oil and scatter over chilli flakes or stir through some chilli paste.  Place in the heated oven and leave to cook for 10 minutes.
Make up the quantity of chicken stock needed for the amount of bulgur wheat you are cooking (I use a large glass measuring jug for this) add the bulgur wheat and cover the jug with cling-film or tinfoil to keep the heat in.
Leave to stand for 5 minutes or until all the stock is absorbed.
Squeeze the juice from the lemon.  Take the lid off the bulgur wheat, fluff it up with a fork and stir through the lemon juice, cover again to keep it warm.
After the mini chicken fillets have been cooking for 10 minutes remove tray from the oven, drizzle chicken generously with honey and balsamic vinegar and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes.
Meanwhile cook the sweetcorn halves in a saucepan of boiling water, they should cook in under 10 minutes.
Cook the sugar snap peas and green beans in a saucepan of boiling water and drain.
When everything is ready place the bulgur wheat in the base of a large serving platter.  Top with the cooked green vegetables and then the mini chicken fillets along with all the juices.
Arrange the sweetcorn around the edges, crumble over the block of feta and scatter sunflower seeds over everything and serve.
‘Til next time, Sheila.

Posted in Recipes

Chicken, Black Pudding & Honeyed Flaxseed Feta Tray Bake

Chicken, Black Pudding & Honeyed Flaxseed Feta Tray Bake.
chicken black pudding feta
Sometimes it’s hard to come up with a name for a dish especially when there’s a plethora of ingredients like this one.  I’ve thrown a few of the ingredients at the title in the hopes that it will sound interesting enough to have a read of and then maybe to cook.  A cinch of a dish. I dreamt this up while thinking about what would be really easy and quick but satisfying at the same time.  Curious textures and extra nutrients were added in the form of flaked almonds and flaxseeds. This was quite the accident.  Flaxseed is not an ingredient I would normally stock but with sports crazy kids bringing home recipes from nutritionists to try out,  we ended up with a bag of them which I mistakenly bought instead of milled flaxseed.  Sure what would I know!  Very far from a flaxseed, milled or otherwise, that I was reared.  So what to do with these curious looking seeds other than to use them up by flinging at them every dish that goes through the pass.

Now below may look like an off-puttingly lengthy ingredients list (not everything can be made with just 4!) but many of them are long-life store cupboard ones such as the flaked almonds, flaxseed (ahem, ok these are not normally in my store-cupboard), chilli powder, paprika and chickpeas so if you’re well stocked it’ll just be a matter of picking up a few veg, chicken, black pudding, feta and naan bread. With the chicken, black pudding and feta it’s protein heavy and very satisfying but feels like a healthy balanced meal that doesn’t leave you feeling bloated. What I love is the minimal prep., just the chopping of pepper and red onion and that’s not even done finely so prep only takes about 5 minutes in all. Using mini-chicken fillets cuts the cooking and prep. time with total cooking time 25-30 minutes.
chicken black pudding feta with naan

Serves: 4 generously, maybe leftovers for someone’s lunch the next day if the munchies don’t see it gobbled it by midnight.
You will need:
1 red pepper
2 medium red onion
400g can chickpeas
500g mini chicken fillets
Rapeseed or Olive Oil
Hot Chilli Powder
280g round black pudding
200g block feta
4 tbsp flaked almond
1 tbsp flaxseed
Honey for drizzling
Mini naan breads or flat breads (I used garlic & coriander mini naan)
Bag of rocket and spinach leaves
Dressing : combine some olive oil, red wine vinegar and honey
You will need 3 baking trays
Pre-heat the fan oven to 200C
Deseed and thinly slice the red pepper. Peel and chop the red onion into wedges. Place the red pepper and red onion into a baking tray with the drained can of chickpeas.
Place the mini chicken fillets in a separate baking tray.
Drizzle the vegetables and the chicken with oil and then dust with chilli powder and paprika.
Bake in the hot oven for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile slice the black pudding into rounds and cut the block of feta into small cubes.
After the vegetables and chicken have been cooking for 15 minutes remove both trays from the oven. Toss the chicken and sprinkle with some more chilli powder and paprika then arrange the black pudding slices in with the chicken and return the tray to the oven.
Toss and mix the red pepper, red onion and chickpeas and return that tray to the oven also.
Bake both trays again for another 5 minutes.
Remove the vegetable tray, scatter the feta cubes on top, drizzle generously with honey and scatter over 1 tbsp of flaxseed, return tray to oven.
Remove the chicken and black pudding tray, sprinkle over the flaked almonds and return to the oven again.
Bake both trays again for another 5 minutes.
Finally, arrange the naan bread or flat breads on the third baking tray and heat through in the oven continuing to cook the chicken etc for a further 3 minutes or so until the bread is nicely warmed.
Serve on a bed of rocket and spinach leaves and dress with a mixture of oil, red wine vinegar and honey dressing – made to your taste.
Leftovers are just as delicious cold.
‘Til next time, Sheila.

Posted in Recipes, What's for Dinner Mom?

Fish Supper II

New Year, New You – ah don’t mind that nonsense, there’s nothing wrong with the old you!  As for resolutions I’m making one simple resolution for 2017 and that’s to smile more.  Go on smile!  I read that forcing yourself to smile makes you happier and a smile is a contagious thing, if you smile at someone they will more than likely smile back, unless they’re a grouch.  So new year, smilier me.
I think most of us are by now a tad worn after all the shopping and the chopping in preparation for Christmas.  I was also a little deflated when I went to exchange something in a sports shop to see that the as yet unworn ‘new season’ running gear that I got for Christmas and was still at home waiting for its first outing had already been reduced.  Couldn’t the retailers at least give us until the end of January before they reduce everything?  It really would tempt you to just give people vouchers for Christmas so at least they will get full value and it feels like a bit of a con really.
Christmas food prep entailed a lot of peeling and chopping, so in search of a break and minimal prep I came up with this Fish Supper.
The last fish supper post I did was on hake, oven baked in a sweet tomato and thyme sauce.  This is an even simpler fish supper for when you’re totally pressed for time or just too tired to chop!  A couple of minutes prep. then 10 minutes in the oven et voila, Fish Supper.

Fish Supper
ou will need:
Fish fillets – I used salmon
Some oil – I used rapeseed oil
Wholemeal sliced bread (2 slices makes enough for 4-6 fillets) for breadcrumbs
Parmesan to grate
Lemon to zest and slice
Baby spinach leaves
Creme fraiche
Pre-heat your oven to 200C
Place the fish fillets on a baking tray, skin side down.
Use a mini-chopper / food processor to blitz the bread into crumbs.
Mix the breadcrumbs in a bowl with a small handful of grated parmesan.
Use a zester to zest half the lemon peel into the breadcrumbs and mix through.  (Leave the remaining half of lemon peel zest to mix through creme fraiche for garnish.)
Use a pastry brush to lightly oil the top of the fish fillets.
Press a small handful of breadcrumb/parmesan mix onto each fillet to cover the top.
Bake in the hot oven for 5 minutes, reduce heat to 180 and bake for a further 5 to 10 minutes depending on thickness of fish fillets you use.  You can check they are cooked by cutting through the middle of one and pressing your finger into the centre, if piping hot to touch then they are done!
Serve on a bed of baby spinach with lemon slices and some creme fraiche mixed with lemon zest.
‘Til next time, Sheila

Posted in Christmas, Recipes

Warm Maple Pear with Black Pudding & Crumbled Cranberry Wensleydale – Christmas Starter

Warm Maple Pear with Black Pudding & Crumbled Cranberry Wensleydale – A Christmas Starter


This is a Christmas Day starter that you could partly prepare the day before if you wish. If you cooked the pears and black pudding and refrigerate them, then reheat with a quick microwave blitz on the day, all you’ll have to do is assemble on a large platter for self-service, finishing off with crumbled cranberry Wensleydale.



Make it even more Christmassy with a garnish of walnut pieces – not pictured here because I’d run out!

Inspired by a friend of mine who described pears cooked in brandy I decided to make it more kid friendly by going with sweet maple syrup instead.

Crumbly black pudding, creamy cheese and sweet warm fruit make for mixed mouthfuls – one sweet another savoury – pure food heaven.

I’m thinking of having a second starter – this citrusy, mint, grape and melon one is so refreshing it will cleanse like a sorbet and it too can get prepared the day before.

For dessert I’m contemplating this black forest chocolate roulade however what’s putting me off is the storage nightmare.  Where will I put it until ready to consume? Would extra fridge rental be a good business idea for this time of year I wonder?  I really could do with one of those giant American fridges outside the back door plus a Nigella Lawson style pantry but just for a couple of weeks.  I couldn’t be keeping those stocked all year round.  Besides the storage nightmare I’m not looking forward to trolley wars & brussels sprouts panic very much either.  I am looking forward to my dinner though.  There will be brussels sprouts and there will be turkey.  Though not a whole one.  I’ve succumbed to turkey crown over the past few years, pre-prepared and pre-stuffed.  My kids aren’t that gone on turkey so we’ll do a moderately sized duck or goose as well but I have to have turkey and leftovers.  There shall also be a pineapple & brown sugar glazed baked ham and spiced beef (a Cork tradition) both cooked the day before. I’ve been warned to make plenty of stuffing and as I’d eat a stuffing sandwich for breakfast myself I have no problem making an abundance of it.  The shopping & storage will be the hard part but I can’t wait for the cooking and feasting part.  And the no cooking for at least 2 days afterwards while we empty the fridge!


Warm Maple Pear with Black Pudding & Crumbled Cranberry Wensleydale – A Christmas Starter

Serves 4
You will need:
2 ripe pears
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp maple syrup
Baby spinach leaves
Half a Black pudding
Wedge of cranberry Wensleydale cheese
Walnut pieces – optional
Peel the pears and chop into bitesize pieces removing the hard centre.  Heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium to high heat in a small frying pan and add the pears.
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium to high heat in another small frying pan and add chopped up black pudding.
Once the pears are warm add in 3 tbsp maple syrup mix well and reduce the heat to low until you are happy that the black pudding is sufficiently warm/cooked too.
Assemble baby spinach leaves on a large platter.
Scatter over the warm pear pieces and crumbled black pudding and then crumble the Wensleydale cheese with a fork and scatter on top.
Garnish with some walnut pieces (optional) and serve.
‘Til next time, Sheila